Policies
Are We Safer With Them Locked Up? E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

County and state governments just don't have the funds required to be as "tough on crime" as they used to be.
The issue is particularly relevant in California because of the massive size of that state's inmate population and the politically powerful corrections officials charged with supervising incarcerated offenders.

 

But across the nation, the deteriorating and global financial crisis is forcing dramatic changes in the hard-line, punishment-based philosophy that has dominated the USA's criminal justice system.

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Killing Themselves With Your Weapon E-mail
Written by The Journal of Forensic Sciences   

"Suicide by Cop" (SBC) is a suicide method in which a person engages in an act creating actual or apparent danger to others in an attempt to get themselves killed or injured by law enforcement. A new study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences examined the prevalence of this phenomenon among a large sample of officer-involved shootings.


Results show that SBC occurs at extremely high rates, with 36 percent of all shootings being categorized as SBC. The findings confirm the growing incidence of this method of suicide, with SBC cases more likely to result in the death or injury of the subjects 50 percent of the time.

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What You Post Could Let The Guy Walk E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

The Internet is both a blessing and a minefield for law enforcement professionals. The advantages are mostly in areas like recruitment, and in solving local crimes committed by individuals stupid enough to broadcast the very evidence that will eventually be used against them on sites like Myspace and Facebook. The minefield part for law enforcement occurs when officers get so anxious to share photos or video of a big drug bust that they  forget the fact that posting such content will make it impossible to get a conviction. In Lee County, North Carolina, charges have been dropped in the biggest drug bust in the county’s history after video of the crime scene appeared on the Internet.

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Education, not punishment, creates a better system E-mail

Discipline is one of the most important and controversial topics in law enforcement. When the subject comes up, everyone pays close attention because it affects us all. Most law enforcement officers from the rank and file up to chiefs and sheriffs want personnel to comply with the "book" or the "manual" or whatever it is called in your agency. Both association leaders and management report that only a handful of officers cause the majority of disciplinary problems, which means the vast majority of law enforcement officers are rarely subject to the disciplinary system. But what happens when a good officer makes a mistake and is hit with severe punishment, typically a suspension without pay? It can turn a productive employee who has a positive attitude into a bitter one who becomes angry, unproductive and patiently waits to get revenge for what he or she feels is mistreatment by the department and management.

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DHS to look for terrorists on Internet E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Local law enforcement professionals now scour social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook for info about crimes and criminals.

Whether this is a quantum leap in crime fighting is a subject of intense debate. The same dynamic is playing out at the federal level at the Department of Homeland Security. DHS managers say they will devote some of the $43 billion dollars in the agency’s budget to some “next level” counter-intelligence gathering.

The Homeland Security Department may soon start scouring the Internet to find blogs and message boards that terrorists use to plan attacks in the USA. At this point, you might be asking one of several questions, but let’s stick with the two big ones:

1. Is there really a Facebook for malcontents in outfits like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda?

2. And if there are such sites, why did we wait so long before checking them out?

The DHS effort addresses the contentions of some researchers who say that terrorists increasingly use the Internet to plan bombings, recruit members, and spread propaganda. “Blogging and message boards have played a substantial role in allowing communication among those who would do the United States harm,” the department said in a recent press release.

“There is a lot of IED information generated by terrorists everywhere — websites, forums, people telling you where to buy fertilizer and how to plant IEDs,” Hsinchun Chen, director of the University of Arizona’s Artificial Intelligence Lab told Thomas Frank with USA Today. Chen’s “Dark Web” research project has allegedly found 500,000,000 terrorist pages and postings, including tens of thousands that discuss IEDs.

But others aren’t sure how helpful blogs and message boards will be in uncovering attacks in the planning. “I just can’t envision a scenario where somebody posts to a message board, ‘I’m getting ready to launch an IED at this location,’” said terrorism analyst Matt Devost. “A lot of postings about attacks are fantasy, almost role-playing.”

That’s bad news for the folks charged with figuring who’s a threat and who’s just playing tough guy on the internet. With five hundred million “terrorist web pages” to sort through, those folks are going to need a lot of coffee. But others say even if it’s a long shot, looking for the jihadist who posts details on his blog before blowing himself up in a crowded market is worth the effort.

Internet searches are used routinely by government agencies, such as the Defense Department, in gathering intelligence, said Chip Ellis of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The searches use methods similar to a Google query and can be helpful in uncovering the latest IED technology, Ellis said.

 
Denied promotion but won the battle E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

It’s a classic “rock and a hard place” scenario. A  female cop who wants to build her career finds she’s blocked at every pass. Now she’s got to decide whether to take a chance on being ostracized from the job for filing a lawsuit and bringing negative attention to the agency, or trying to make it easier for the next cop who finds herself in the same boat. Luckily for the Texas female officers of the future, Beaumont Texas Police Officer Tina Lewallen made the tough choice.

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Cop-Hater Burns Officer's House Down, Kids Inside E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

A cop-hating arsonist has burned a young Illinois police officer's home to the ground. Now her fellow officers are stepping up big in their efforts to help Officer Kelly Johnson get through the ordeal. Officer Johnson frequently wore her Lynwood Police Department uniform when she left the house and often parked a take-home squad car in the driveway. But the police presence that neighbors said made them feel safe also made Johnson a target.

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Not Too Old To Do The Work, But Too Old To Get Promoted E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

The Rolling Stones once declared, "What a drag it is getting old," and some 30-year-plus veteran San Francisco police officers couldn't agree more. The group accused their department in a recent lawsuit of passing them over for promotion to Inspector because of their age, despite already having done the job.

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More Restrictions On Life Outside The Job E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

It's beginning to feel like the space between the rock and the hard place many police officers live in financially is getting smaller by the day. For instance, off-duty police officers across Arkansas who live for free or get a cut in their rent at apartment complexes in exchange for working security jobs may be in hot water: some say the cops could be breaking federal law if they don't pay taxes on the benefit.

 

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